Cempra (Nasdaq: CEMP) has won a contract worth as much as $58 million over five years from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) for development of an antibiotic that could be used by young people and to counter bioterror threats.

The company has secured a two-year deal worth $17 million to work with its antibiotic candidate solithromycin, which is currently in Phase 3 clinical trial. 

It is being tested on patients with community-acquired bacterial pneumonia.

The Chapel Hill-based drug startup firm recently landed a $10 million up-front licensing fee from Japan-based Toyama Chemical Company for exclusive commercialization rights of its top drug candidate in Japan.

Cempra also stands to gain as much as $60 million in milestone payments. Royalties also would be paid based on sales, pending approval.

Cempra recently announced a first quarter net loss of $10.3 million, up from $3.5 million a year earlier.

However, much of that loss was for research and development of solithromycin, currently in phase III trials in patients with community-acquired bacterial pneumonia.

“We are delighted that BARDA has recognized solithromycin as a potentially safe and effective treatment for the pediatric population,” said Prabhavathi Fernandes, chief executive officer of Cempra. “Macrolides have traditionally been favored for use in pediatrics because of their safety and efficacy. Solithromycin’s approval would be the first orally administered antibiotic approved in decades, and azithromycin (Zithromax or Z-Pak) was the last macrolide approved, which was in 1991. We view BARDA’s funding of this project as recognition of the potential of solithromycin to have broad utility in all age groups.”